Lagos market, popularly known as Eko or Balogun market is known for its buzz, tussle and it’s life-saving ability of having almost anything you need. Truth be told, there is absolutely nothing you will ever need that you wouldn’t be able to find in Balogun. Ranging from clothes to food items, to accessories and whatever it is that you can possibly think of needing. Eko market is your one stop shop that not only provides a vast collection of things, but sells at relatively cheaper rates too. You know those Instagram stores you shop from? they frequently buy their items from Lagos at a cheaper price, then sell online at a higher price.
You are guaranteed to be blown away by the different types of traders you would come in contact with while in Lagos. Some can be helpful and useful, while others can be impatient and disrespectful. No seriously, what type of personality wouldn’t you meet in this market?
I remember my very first trip there. I was overwhelmed, blaringly confused and might I add, irritated by the stress, heat and cat calling done by the male traders. It is the absolute ghetto in there, and I wish someone had sent me a memo of what to expect, because trust me when I say that place is the jungle.
It’s December and shopping lists need to be checked, so pick up your notepad and don’t end up like me. Here are some helpful tips and guidelines if you’re exploring this territory for the first time, or if you still can’t get the hang of the craziness that is Balogun market.
DO: Create and carry along your shopping lists.
DON’T: Impulse buy.
I cannot over-emphasize this rule enough. If you’re like me and you can’t catch a break with impulse shopping, then ensure you create a shopping list prior to the D-day stating all that you wish to buy and your budget for each. This goes a long way in keeping you in check. Imagine getting so distracted with other options that you forget what you really had in mind in the first place. That happened to me in Lagos and it didn’t end well.
DO: Buy similar items around the same spot.
DON’T: Walk around in circles at the Market.
What most people don’t remember is, just like the average mall or super market, Lagos market is also categorized by its products. Similar products are sold in the same location so your chances of seeing footwear in a food item spot is slim. What you need to do is, buy the items you need that are sold close to each other and continue like that, so you’re not tread-milling and walking around the whole Lagos looking confused.
DO: Add some Pidgin English to your conversations when speaking to Lagos Market traders, or speak in your native language, especially if they are the same tribe as you.
DON’T: Go there and be forming IJGB.
These traders are not to be trusted. In less than one minute, they will scrutinize you and your net worth and decide what type of customer you are; a mumu, or an expert. This can result in whether they will sell to you at the real last price, or whether they will inflate their prices. The point is, you have to look like you know what’s up in these streets, or else they will exploit you and your ancestors.
DO: Know the difference between original and fake products. Shine your eye sis-tah!
DON’T: Accidentally buy a fake product. Again, shine your eye.
In Lagos market, you have to shine your eyes well. Unless if you’re not careful, you will spend all your coins on fake products, and there is nothing worse than that realization. From makeup, to hair, to clothes and bags. This is why you need to be able to navigate the market well and know what traders are known to sell real products, and those that are known to sell fake. Also, don’t go to Lagos looking for designer bags and clothes, because you will not find Balenciaga, instead you will see plenty Balernsiagar.
DO: Track down the warehouse location when doing bulk purchases.
DON’T: Buy from the retail traders when doing bulk purchases.
If you are doing bulk or wholesale purchases, it is advisable to track down the main warehouse of this product. This way, you have better options and much more reduced cost. For instance with Lace and Fabrics, Gutter is a well-known spot. American Plaza is known for its shoe collection and shopping for Jeans in Tinubu is way easier. If you need to ask questions or directions, do ask – but read the next tip first.
DO: Take directions from reliable traders.
DON’T: Follow cat-calling strangers or local shopping guards.
A number of people in Lagos market are there to roam, prey, and steal from buyers. They could disguise as local shopping guards so be careful, because at the end of the day they are all mad. It is advisable to ask traders for directions, preferably traders you’ve interacted with or purchased an item from. While we continue battling with misogynistic Lagos men, please avoid cat-calling strangers at all times.
DO: Withdraw all the cash you’ll need before getting to the market.
DON’T: Carry your ATM or your mobile phone to make money transfers.
I know we’re slowly becoming a cashless society but trust me, in Balogun market you will want to have your cash ready. If you decide to use the ATM there, you are on your own. You will spend the time you’re supposed to use to be shopping, queueing for what will seem like hours. If you want to make a transfer, I do not recommend at all. The service in Lagos market is dangerous. That’s when your phone will go from 4G to E.
DO: Stay as lightly dressed as possible.
DON’T: Bring the Birkin bag or Airpods to the Market.
Don’t even think about coming to this market to show off, or else you will be humbled. Lagos market is no place to play dress up, dressing as light as possible is all the confidence you need here. Personally, I usually get dressed in a light but comfortable blouse, a pair of jeans with durable sandals and I’m good to go. I recommend carrying along a fanny pack / waist bag – Something that you can always see with your two eyes because in Balogun, blink once and they have stolen something from you. They do not waste any time.
Lagos market isn’t that much of a hassle if you remain safe and change it for anybody that gets out of line. That includes traders that looooove to tap and touch your hands any chance they get.
“Ah, fine sister. Won’t you come and buy..” “See as you set. Come and buy my jeans”
Anyone that tries to touch you, whether on your hands or anywhere, do not hesitate to put them in their place and keep it moving.
With that said, I wish you a happy shopping experience and as we Nigerians love to say, buy something for me o!